The starting point is always the same: create a website for your business. Once you have your own website, there are a number of things you can do to promote your website more effectively and turn it into a real “war machine,” which is essential for promoting and selling your services/products.
Some of the most useful activities for anyone who has a bar, a shop or any other local business fall within the scope of Local SEO. Our friend and SEO expert Luigi Luongo explains what SEO is, how to do it and what advantages it offers.
Hello Luigi, can you tell us something about yourself so we can introduce you to those who don’t know you yet?
Thank you very much for the interview. My name is Luigi Luongo and I received my degree in Computer Engineering in 2010. I started working in the field of search engine optimization for a large consulting firm in Piedmont, which allowed me to do a lot of work for a number of clients. For seven years now, I have had my own search engine optimization agency. Over the last two years, we have combined artificial intelligence and optimization to make some activities scalable for large information portals that have a massive amount of content that cannot be optimized individually. This has allowed me to better understand the future of this profession and especially what its limitations are, which are the limitations of automatic learning algorithms.
So, what are your main activities?
I would say that my main activities are the technical optimization of search engines and the development of SEO-related artificial intelligence algorithms.
Today, we would like to talk with you about “Local SEO.” Can you tell us what this means?
Local SEO is a branch of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that deals with optimizing websites in a way that is local and therefore limiting it to a region, province or town. While SEO in general deals with optimization on a national and/or international level, Local SEO focuses on specific geographical areas.
So, what are the advantages of Local SEO?
When it is done well, Local SEO offers many advantages. For example:
- It can reduce competition by achieving better organic rankings than at the national level;
- It allows you to bring people directly into your physical store;
And most importantly, it lets you make your business known to people who live nearby and to those who only pass by from time to time.
In your opinion, who should be doing Local SEO?
All companies that have a local business should consider this type of activity.
For example, some businesses that can benefit from Local SEO are:
- Ice cream parlors
In other words, all businesses that have a local presence should consider Local SEO for the free visibility it provides.
Based on your experience, what are the best on-site Local SEO strategies that businesses can use?
As far as on-site optimization is concerned, the best strategy is to create a highly focused mini website. When doing this, you need to pay close attention to certain factors and create a number of useful pages that help and support placing your business into a local context. The main pages that you should pay attention to during optimization are your homepage and your contact page.
Your homepage should contain a description of your business, your services (who would benefit from your services? what problems do you solve?) and the area in which you operate. You should try to enhance your homepage with images and even some videos, with internal links to the various other sections of your website and to your contact page. Some of the images of your company could be the same as those inserted in the Google My Business tab.
Create and optimize your contact page. This page should include essential information, such as:
- The name of your business;
- The address of your business;
- Your contact telephone;
- An embedded Google Map.
However, in terms of on-page optimization, the important factors you should focus on are:
- Optimizing your website for viewing on mobile devices;
- Defining the titles and descriptions of the different pages you create (remember to enter local terms);
- Defining the headlines (H1, H2, H3, etc.). Pay special attention to the use of H1 and H2;
- Writing simple and grammatically correct paragraphs of text. Avoid the use of subordinate clauses, long explanations in parenthesis and sentences in passive voice;
- Formatting paragraphs by highlighting important parts of the text;
- Creating internal links with anchors that use local terms;
- Entering some structured data in the website that makes it easier for search engines to extract information about your business.
You mentioned structured data. Can you tell us more about this?
Structured data are the elements that enhance and simplify the extraction of certain types information from your website. This information, which is hidden to the user but is visible to the search engine, provides certain clues that help search engines to better understand the webpages they are analyzing.
There are different types of structured data that can be inserted in your main pages. Certainly, for local businesses, some of the most important structured data is:
These two links lead to the Google Developer’s Guide, which explains how to insert this data, the formats available and recommendations on how not to misuse it. I find it very interesting and useful that the new version of WebSite X5 allows this and other types of structured data to be inserted almost automatically into the page code. Since the software takes care of the technical details, it’s easy to use the structured data with all the benefits that can be gained from it.
As far as off-site actions are concerned, what would you start with?
To create a solid off-site structure for a localized presence, I would start with a few activities, but be sure to do them well.
Google My Business
First, I would carefully open and detail the Google My Business tab. I would pay attention to the images and I would prefer to use the company’s own internal and external images. For the external images, it’s better if you can see the company’s sign in them.
When writing the company listing, I would pay attention to some key factors which are also explained in Google My Business Help:
Relevance indicates the level of correspondence of a local listing with the user’s search. The more detailed and accurate your listing is, the more the search engine can understand what your business is about and then suggest it to potential customers when they’re doing local searches.
The distance is calculated based on how far away a certain business is from the terms contained in the search query. If potential customers search for an “electrician in Vercelli,” all the tradesmen in Vercelli and not those in Milan, will be displayed in the results.
Sometimes, potential customers may not enter locations into their search queries. In this case, the search engine uses the known data about your location together with the data about your business and suggests your business, because it is close to them.
Some businesses and places are better known in reality, so the search engine also tries to reflect this situation when composing the final SERP (Search Engine Results Pages).
Local link building
It would take an entire article to explain what this means and how it should be done. At this point, however, I would like to draw your attention to one factor: link frequency. Most of the time, the link frequency is so high that websites are penalized for this, so it’s important not to overdo it.
I live in a small community in the province of Vercelli. In our community, there are several newspapers, businesses that have their own websites and that are our suppliers, locally managed traditional directories, etc. All of these places are great for creating a link building strategy. You could create or have someone create articles about the activities, initiatives and events that your business supports or does. You can register with these local information aggregators, etc. There are many opportunities at the local level for increasing the awareness of your business and for improving your local optimization. Focus on the quality of your links and not so much on their quantity.
I would also create my company listing on social networks. This would allow me to strengthen the signals that I send to search engines about my online business.
In closing, do you have one last piece of advice for us?
As a last tip, forget about special effects, and instead, create a website with useful information for those who are looking for you, without getting lost in stories that no one is interested in. Try to better explain what you do, where you do it and what geographical area you cover. Use text that is easy to understand, even for a search engine. Subject, predicate and verb.
Other than that, I wish you success with your Local SEO.